Monday, 21 April 2008

Memento Mori and Kitchen Installers

Jose Antonio promises the house (or at least his part of it) will be done at the end of the week. Woohoo!

There´s a wall-eyed man in there right now, installing the kitchen. And upstairs, now that we can walk on the shiny shellacked floors, the bathroom awaits the plumber, who awaits the carpenter, who awaits the doors, which are in that never-neverland called Asturias!

The details are happening. The details, I am told by Casa y Campo and the glossy "decor porn" magazines, make all the difference. And that´s what makes me so nervous!
It looks like the bathroom furniture - the sink base, the cupboard, etc., arrived in the same color we ordered for the downstairs bathroom. Down there they look great. Upstairs, though, in the blue and white and pine-colored sunlight, they just look black. I can only hope they can whisk them back to the warehouse and get them switched out. I can only hope that bathroom fittings don´t also come from Asturias.

I know this is all terribly dull, especially if you´re here looking for uplifting inspiration about the pilgrimage to Santiago. I tell myself we are doing all this, at least in part, for the pilgrims who will eventually fetch up here.

And when I think of these things I remember Fuente de Hospitalejo, a place along the lonely camino outside Carrion de los Condes. Way back about a thousand years ago, when the Camino was even bigger than it is now, when thousands of medieval pilgrims toiled for months to make the trip, Hospitalejo was a booming little place. It had at least one innkeeper and his family, a farmhand or two, and a constant stream of pilgrims -- some of whom stayed for days or weeks, or even the rest of their lives. ("Hospital" didn´t mean "medical center" per se... it was something more like "hostel," or "hotel.") Some of the pilgrims died there, along with the innkeeper and his family and farmhands. This went on for generations, for centuries, until the pilgrim stream eventually dried up. The innkeeper´s heirs found better ways and places to make their living. The inn and barns and outbuildings fell down. The cemetery disappeared beneath somebody´s plow. Hospitalejo, after all those years and generations of human labor and effort, heartbreak and death and maybe even decor, vanished.

Now there´s only a spring there, and a stone marker.

Someday, maybe sooner than later, the Peaceable will vanish, too, maybe gone back to earth, maybe paved-over and replaced by a shiny subdivision or factory or airport. The paint colors and matching wood and flowers and rosebushes will be just as forgotten as Patrick O´Gara and Rebekah Scott and Bob the Canary... and the anonymous, long-dead innkeepers of Fuente de Hospitalejo.

I need to remember that.

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